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September 23, 2010

Less than two years ago Dwaipayan Choudhury filed up and down tightly packed booths at Bradley’s job fairs, connecting with prospective employers interested in hiring a budding industrial engineer. Today Choudhury found himself on the other side of a booth, this time as a recruiter for HNI Corporation, the second-largest furniture maker in the world.

The Smith Career Center’s Fall Job & Internship Fair brought Choudhury and his colleague, Mark Winters ’76, back to their alma mater in pursuit of full-time employees and interns.

“Bradley graduates are quick learners, work well in teams, and have no problem seeing the big picture,” said Choudhury. “Those skills translate really well to operations on the factory floor.”

A total of 93 companies from across the nation sent recruiters to Bradley’s new arena Thursday for the largest non-athletic event to be held in the venue since its completion. The spacious facility allowed students to comfortably navigate the booths, speaking to professionals in fields from healthcare to manufacturing, communications to law enforcement.

Jane Linnenburger, executive director of the Smith Career Center, said Bradley continuously seeks the participation of alumni in helping current students find jobs and internships.

“Our alumni love to give back, and they’re very excited to be here representing their companies,” said Linnenburger. “It also demonstrates that the companies value their Bradley graduates, because they want them to come back to campus to recruit young professionals with the same solid educational background.”

With her graduation just three months away, senior Timeka Garrett attended Thursday’s job fair to look for opportunities in management or administration. Past job fairs at the Michel Student Center prepared her for today’s interactions with potential employers, while the arena provided a more comfortable environment.

“The first one was very intimidating, but now I’m putting myself out there as much as possible,” said Garrett. “It’s much more spacious here, so I can approach the people I want to speak with, and I don’t get shoved into situations I’m not ready for.”

That confidence and professionalism are qualities freshmen Kaitlin Wright and Kevin Crampton hoped to gain from attending the job fair. They weren’t looking to land a job, but rather to get practice speaking to employers.

Rick Smith, director of career development with the Smith Career Center, said Wright and Crampton have the right idea.

“In a struggling economy, in which there may be limited numbers of positions available, the students who demonstrate confidence will have a leg up on their competition,” said Smith.

For those seeking a different option beyond Bradley, the Smith Career Center will sponsor a graduate school job fair next month.

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